Saying simply, "we just don't have the money," independent candidate for governor Timothy Cahill defended his call to pull back state support from transportation expansion projects.
In an interview with WBUR's Bob Oakes during a special live broadcast from Union Station here, the state's treasurer said his stance reflects the tough decisions the next governor needs to make. One such project would expand Worcester commuter rail service, which many area commuters want.
"Our public transportation system is the most indebted in the nation right now," Cahill said. "And my focus as governor would be on fixing what we have, making sure that it's safe, that we get these trains to run on time, that we upgrade the rails themselves and the tracks."
Cahill denied that curbing expansion would condemn the city's efforts to improve itself. Worcester officials have stressed the rail's importance to the newly launched CitySquare project. Cahill said he doesn't want to supply rail that might exceed rider demand, but he also would like to devote resources to the city itself.
"I would rather see us put the money into Worcester," he said. "What we're doing in Worcester and what we're doing in Fall River is we're telling people the only job opportunities are going to be in Boston. I think we're neglecting the central Massachusetts, the Worcester area and the South Coast region. I'd rather spend the investment money as it's being spent in Worcester right now so that we will create jobs in that region."
Worcester, like many cities and towns throughout Massachusetts, is banking on biotechnology and life sciences companies to drive growth after the state launched the $10 billion Life Sciences Initiative. Cahill opposes the initiative. He says the state is putting all of its eggs into one basket and should focus instead on conditions for all businesses, regardless of size or industry.
"What I'm critical of the governor's office is that they're picking which industries they want to focus on and which industries will thrive in the future, and I just don't think that's how capitalism works," he said. "I don't think it's the government's job to pick winners and losers.
"What government I believe should be doing is leveling the playing field, lowering the cost of business, whether it's taxes or the cost of employment." Cahill said his approach would aid businesses throughout the state.
As he travels Route 9 this week, WBUR’s Bob Oakes will speak with the four candidates for governor.
This program aired on September 21, 2010.